Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Of my earliest lessons, three involved the apple. The first concerned Eve, who angered God by picking and sharing an apple with her husband, Adam; second, Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, inspired by an apple that picked itself; third, if I wanted something from my father, I had to stand on the kitchen table and sing Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days” (1968), which, as some of you will know, was released on Apple Records.

However, it was not Newton’s law of gravity that I was reminded of this morning but his Third Law: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” The source was Neil Reynold’s Globe column and its focus on the welfare state in relation to antagonisms between U.S. federal and state governments.

Reynold’s begins by reminding us of Thomas Jefferson’s 1798 doctrine of nullification that permits state governments to unilaterally declare federal laws unconstitutional. The doctrine had been evoked by a handful of states in 2005 over the allowance of “obtrusive” police searches, but more recently with respect to the application of Obama’s national health care reforms.

Where I was reminded of Newton’s Third Law was not Reynold’s assertion that “conservatives accept the legitimacy of the welfare state [and that] liberals accept limits on it,” but in the latest stage play know as American Politics, where the reaction to President Obama’s attentive eggheaded jock is met by that pit-lamped word-imperfect hick, Sarah Palin.

This is screwball politics at its most cynical. Yet to call it that would weigh it in Palin’s favour. Indeed, from what I have learned, the majority of Americans would rather laugh at something than take it for a walk, the latter taking up too much time, too much thought. When it comes to thinking, most Americans prefer blindness and faith, belief as opposed to critique.

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